The time finally came for our little babe to try her first bites of real food. As a Registered Dietitian, I was more than excited to go digging through articles and plunging through books to read up on the latest research about baby food. Y’all, this is straight down my alley and I had a wonderful time learning all about the different ways to introduce foods to my little one.
I have a lot to mention in this blog post, from informational references to food supplies to signs and signals your babe might be giving you, so I’ll try to keep it short and informative for you new moms and dads out there wanting to know what I found was the most helpful for us.
If you’re curious and looking for a good read, I recommend the book ‘The Big Book of Organic Baby Food‘ by Stephanie Middleberg MS, RD, CDN. It’s a great reference tool for recipes, tools, suggestions, and ideas on how to start foods for your little one.
Signs Your Little One is Ready For Food
There are a few things to look for when your babe is trying to tell you she is ready for her first bites of real food. Little did I know, our Emmie girl was trying to tell us for weeks before I was actually ready. First and foremost, make sure you get the Okay from your pediatrician. Typically, this is around four-six months. They will suggest you can start on simple cereal and purees (when you’re both ready). However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests to wait until six months of age. Things change a bit every few years, so I truly think it also depends on YOU and YOUR little one. Regardless of when you decide the time is right, make sure to continue with breast milk or formula for the majority of her calories throughout the day. The AAP recommends to continue breastfeeding for AT LEAST twelve months, not just stopping when you introduce solid foods.
Here are the signs to look for
- Little one can sit up (either with minimal assist or independently)
- Little one has good neck control and can turn towards or away from you
- Little one is reaching for, looking at, or showing interest in what you’re eating
- Little one has lost the tongue-thrust reflex that causes her to spit anything out
For us, it was very notable when Emmie was reaching for our plates and diving head first into our meals that she was beyond ready for some food. Now I can’t stop laughing at these photos because it’s so obvious to me that she was sending us her signs of readiness. From grabbing the spoon to opening her mouth, these are all signs to look for.
What Foods To Offer First?
After knowing that the time has come for her to try some food, what do you offer first? There are so many different answers to this question and this is where people tend to differ in opinion. Some say offer rice cereals softened with breast milk or formula, others say start with pureed vegetables and fruit, still, others say that starting at 6 months they can eat bigger bites of food (such in the case of baby-led weaning). For us, I started our Emmie girl on pureed avocado and root vegetables. My personal reasoning is that offering fruits first introduces them to sweet foods very early on and may inhibit their chance to like other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, peas, asparagus etc. However, there is no strong evidence to support this theory. Furthermore, it is suggested not to offer any of the top eight allergens as a first food such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, soy, fish, or eggs. I opted to try avocado puree first, and she loved it! How could she not, it’s new and exciting and full of vitamins and nutrients!
Other foods to consider offering first would be
- Sweet potatoes
- Root Vegetables
Preparing For Baby’s First Meal
Okay, I know this may seem silly to some, but your little one’s first meal is like a right of passage. It’s another (rather large) step in your little one’s life. A moment you’ll surely not forget, especially the adorable mess that soon follows. It’s a memory to cherish and remember for years down the road. With all that being said, there are a few things to do before she takes those first few bites such as food prep, stocking the kitchen with proper utensils, and making sure your camera has plenty of battery and storage ready to capture those precious moments.
For me, making my own baby food is so very important. Again, this is a personal preference and because I do have the time and tools, I enjoy this small task in preparing Emmie’s meals for the week. Some people might think making their own baby food is tedious and takes too much time. However, baby food portions at this young age are so small that you can actually make a few weeks worth of food in a matter of less than an hour. Talk about the ultimate meal prep!
Here are the tools I have found helpful when prepping and serving baby’s first few bites
- Baby Bullet for prepping baby food
- Baby Bullet storage starter kit
- Hot safety spoons for serving
- Self feeding spoons for little ones
- My favorite bibs for little one
All photos used were taken by and for The Healthy Chew, all rights reserved.
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